Author: Gregg Olsen
Publisher/Year: Splinter, 2012
Length: 288 pages
Series?: Empty Coffin #2
Genre: YA crime novel/paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher
Based on the real-life Amanda Knox case, Betrayal is the story of the murder of British exchange student Olivia Grant. Olivia was found wrapped in a bloody sheet on the floor during a Halloween party, and the rich, snobby Brianna Conners (and her boyfriend Drew) are persons of interest in the case. Between doing yoga at the police station between interviews and buying lingerie while making out with Drew less than twenty four hours after the death of her BFF, Brianna becomes the focal point of the media frenzy. Twins Hayley and Taylor find themselves experiencing supernatural messages and visions connected with the murder. However, they are also caught in their own drama — the continuing web of secrets that might unlock keys to the past.
Let’s start with what’s good about this book. First, the crime element was well-written and appropriately creepy. Olsen does a good job with taking a familiar, real-life crime and hooking us on the story. However, the story always goes its own direction and the ending isn’t predictable. Second, the overall arc of the series is quite intriguing. Hayley and Taylor have these strange powers and many strange incidents in their pasts. There is something quite sinister at work in their lives, and only small bits are released at a time. I really want to know exactly what happened that day their school bus plunged into the water..and why. That’s what will keep me reading these books.
Unfortunately, there were a few things I didn’t like. If you read the reviews of the book on Goodreads, I’m not alone in this complaint: there are too many pop culture references and the book sounds like it’s trying a little to hard to be “hip” for teens. It’s okay in books like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars, because those books are like the candy of the book world. Light, airy, superficial cotton candy that can get all caught up in muffin tops and Victoria’s Secret thongs. However, I think that type of writing is missing the mark with the target demographic for this series. I really think Olsen could be writing for people who like a good crime story and awesome plot twists without having to resort to references that will just be dated in a few years.
FINAL GRADE: B With this book, I just have to see the forest through the trees. I’m a sucker for a mystery and a sucker for a crime novel, what can I say? Gregg Olsen has a knack for storytelling and tossing in enough twists/tension to keep me turning pages.
Required Reading: Required for anyone who read Envy and enjoyed it. Required for fans of crime novels, mysteries, and paranormal novels.
Library Recommendation: Put it in your middle or high school library, the kids will definitely read it.